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May 21, 2010

How we can help people like Paul reconnect with communities

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 4:18 pm

A while ago I used to meet up with a young bloke who slept in the underpass around Waterloo station – I’ll call him Paul. He was thrown out of his home by his mum when he was 19 years old because he had grand mal epileptic fits several times a day.

His family could no longer cope. He had no friends.

“No one wants to be around someone like me,” he whispered over his coffee (he always spoke in whispers). “I wake up and have no idea what will happen to me during the day – even where I’ll end up.” It was the worst case of epilepsy I’d heard of and his homelessness was clearly causing a lot of stress and making it worse.

That was back in the early 1990s. I wrote his story for the Big Issue and then, unfortunately, lost contact with him.

For people like Paul I doubt much has changed in the past two decades. Nevertheless, I do know that people working in mental health services are trying to make a difference, trying to shine a light on the blighted lives of people like Paul. Trying to bring them back into the community.

We recently launched our own community portal for Suffolk County Council. The idea is that it will eventually have a reach that will include all the people living across the county.

Given the need for local government to reach out to communities, I reckon it’s a pretty good start at helping people like Paul reconnect with you, me and everyone.

I know this probably looks like shameless self promotion, but what the hell! I really believe in what I’m doing so here’s an online demo of the existing community portal in Stockport.


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